Ex-cop Daniel Pantaleo has lost his bid to get his job back after he was booted from the NYPD over the fatal arrest of Eric Garner.
Daniel Pantaleo was fired by then-NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill after the department trial found that he used an unauthorized chokehold to restrain Garner, a 43-year-old Black man who was arrested during a dispute over selling loose cigarettes.
On Thursday (March 25), the court decided to uphold Pantaleo’s termination. “Substantial evidence supports respondents’ conclusion that petitioner recklessly caused injury to Eric Garner by maintaining a prohibited chokehold for 9 to 10 seconds after exigent circumstances were no longer present, thereby disregarding the risk of injury,” the three-judge panel decided.
“Conduct far less serious than petitioner’s has been found by the Court of Appeals to have a destructive impact … on the confidence, which it is so important for the public to have in its police officers,” the panel added.
Stuart London, Pantaleo’s lawyer, said he and his client are frustrated with the ruling. “We are disappointed with the reasoning and the decision handed down today and we are carefully reviewing the decision to explore our appellate options.”
Back in 2014, Pantaleo placed Garner in a chokehold and wrestled him to the ground as he called out multiple times, “I can’t breathe!” The New York City’s medical examiner ruled that his death was a homicide due to the chokehold triggering a fatal asthma attack.
The U.S. Department of Justice and a Staten Island grand jury both declined to bring criminal charges against Pantaleo, however, he was later terminated by the NYPD following a department disciplinary trial.
“Every time I watch that video I say to myself, as I’m sure all of you do, ‘Mr. Garner, don’t do it. Comply. Officer Pantaleo, don’t do it,’” O’Neill said after the firing. “But none of us can take back our decisions, most especially when they lead to the death of another human being.”
Fred Davie, the chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which prosecuted the case, lauded the ruling.
“Achieving a shred of justice for Eric Garner took entirely too long, and tragically, firing Daniel Pantaleo from the NYPD will never bring Eric back to his family,” Davie said in a statement.
“The decision to terminate Daniel Pantaleo from the Police Department following the CCRB’s prosecution was the correct one, and I commend the First Department for upholding this decision,” Davie continued.
“Daniel Pantaleo should never be able to patrol New York City streets again, and now New Yorkers can rest assured that he won’t.”